ARLINGTON, VA., In a statement delivered this morning at a U.S. Senate oversight hearing, Michael J. Stanton, President and CEO of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers (AIAM), conveyed AIAM’s support for enhanced passenger vehicle roof strength standards as part of a larger comprehensive effort to help prevent rollover crashes and the fatalities and serious injuries caused by vehicle rollovers. The hearing was held by Senator Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs, Insurance, and Automotive Safety.
Stanton pointed out that rollover crashes are relatively rare events, accounting for only about 3 percent of vehicle crashes, yet they represent about one-third of all light vehicle crash fatalities. One of the unfortunate factors contributing to the high fatality rate in rollover crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is that nearly three-fourths of the people killed in rollover crashes are unbelted, with about two-thirds of the fatalities in all rollovers involving occupants being ejected from the vehicle.
“AIAM supports Congress’ direction to NHTSA to issue upgraded roof strength requirements as part of a comprehensive strategy to address vehicle rollover crashes,” said Stanton. “Consistent with Congressional direction, NHTSA proposed (such) a comprehensive approach to vehicle rollovers. This response begins with the preferred approach of seeking to prevent the occurrence of rollovers in the first place through such measures as mandating the installation of electronic stability control systems (ESC), the development of other electronic crash avoidance systems such as road departure warning systems, and the 2004 enhancement of the agency’s new car assessment program (NCAP) which provides consumers information on the rollover propensity of specific models. NHTSA also noted that enhanced enforcement of impaired driving laws and speed limits would reduce the frequency of rollovers. In addition, increased safety belt use and other owner occupant retention technologies can be used to significantly lessen fatalities and other serious injuries that occur during rollover crashes.”